Swing dancing is a great way to improve your emotional and physical health. In fact, if you take care of your body while you dance it could be one of the only activities you need to maintain great fitness. But there’s a wide world of sports and activities out there that can improve your dancing prowess, and I think you’ll find that as your dancing ability improves, you will also expand your ability to perform your other hobbies.
There are so many activities you could enjoy alongside dancing to maximize your benefits. Here are some popular “cross training” activities that can benefit your dancing.
Yoga and Acroyoga
Yoga is perhaps the most common crossover with dancers, and for good reason. In fact many of our most talented local dancers are practicing yogis themselves. The meditative, relaxed nature of yoga movements can provide many benefits to a dancer. Long time yogis experience improved flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone (particularly in the core), improved respiration, and improved posture.
Acroyoga combines many yoga principles with added emphasis on partnership, control, and balance. There is significant talent overlap in Acroyoga, especially as it relates to teamwork and trust in partnership.
If you practice yoga or Acroyoga, the improvements in flexibility and core strength will directly translate into more fluid and graceful dancing. If you were looking to improve your dance aesthetic, yoga might be something you should invest some time in.
Before I began dancing, I was a professional martial artist. My martial arts experience gave me a leg up when I was able to apply the lessons I learned in martial arts to my practice of dance. Martial arts practitioners develop balance, coordination, strength, and focus. Combine those skills with the partnering aspects of martial arts practice and the similarities are even more significant. There are many dancers who have a background in martial arts or who practice part time themselves.
I recommend trying martial arts for its many benefits. Both martial arts and dancing can improve self-confidence and provide a sense of accomplishment through developing a unique skill. I firmly believe my personal experience in the martial arts has informed my dancing immeasurably.
Rock Climbing and Bouldering
I’ll admit it – I have a fear of heights. So my practical, hands-on experience with rock climbing is limited. But my view from the ground has been great! Certainly the improved core strength, balance, conditioning, teamwork, and planning required for a successful climb translates well into improved dancing.
Bouldering requires the same concentration, strength, and dexterity as rock climbing. Both activities are great ways to stay in shape and can benefit your dancing.
At Crescent City Swing, we focus on traditional jazz dances like Lindy Hop, Charleston, Balboa, and others from the swing era. But the world of dance is chock full of dances from different periods of time, places of the world, and styles of music. If you’re interested in improving your swing dancing, why not try salsa, tango, ballroom, or hip hop?
The musicality and quality of movement you develop by delving into dances from different music styles will benefit your swing dancing directly. You likely already have an interest in dancing – trying a new dance can be a fun and challenging hobby, even if you’re one of the best lindy hoppers around.
Improving your swing dancing takes practice, time, and energy. Cross training is just one way to get some quality experience and challenge yourself. Many of the hobbies or activities listed above are rewarding for their own sake. The best method to dancing (and to life) is a balanced approach, full of experience from many different activities and passions. After all, dancing is about expressing ourselves – find something that helps you express yourself better.
That’s all we have right now about cross training for dance. What have you had success with? If you have another activity you think is a great fit for dancers, we’d like to hear about it!